This is a preview of our feature on Mattea Perrotta in upcoming issue 15.
Mattea Perrotta – artist, painter, muse, creative force of nature – lives in a craftsman duplex in Echo Park, on the south side of Dodger Stadium, tucked away beneath sprawling sycamore groves and transplanted palm trees. We spend most of our time together sitting on her back porch, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, drinking tequila cocktails and talking about life. Life to Mattea, as you’ll come to learn, revolves almost entirely around painting. “I don’t know what else I would do if I didn’t paint.”
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To speak every language in the world. I think language is the most beautiful thing, especially now, because we’re so lazy with texting and everyone’s using emojis and we’re basically going back to hieroglyphics. We’ve established this sense of language that’s amazing, and we don’t even use it anymore. And there are acronyms for things. Like, why? What happened to poetry and writing letters? I’m a tragic romantic, but I think language is amazing. There’s something so powerful and beautiful about it, but people are lazy. Just like with art, I can get lazy in the studio sometimes when I’m painting, and I’ll just want to speed up a process. But then I remind myself to enjoy, to take my time, to get to know the color, the composition, the palette. You have to be really slow and patient and try all over again. It comes down to an ego thing.
What do you mean by that?
It’s about letting your ego go. Ego gets in the way and controls everything. And it’s like, for what? Fuck it. We’re all human, we’re gonna look stupid sometimes, and that’s okay. That’s the beauty of it, the flaws and the imperfections. And I try and do that with my painting. My first year I was with Mama [Gallery], I was much more precise and controlled, and the colors were one color. Nothing was mixing in between. And now my practice—my whole view on life—is about the imperfection and how beautiful that is and showing that. So now I’m applying that to my painting, but for a very long time, I had to make it perfect before I could imperfect it because I had to understand the perfect before I could understand the imperfection. It’s kind of like going backward, but for me, in order to get to this level, I had to do this other thing first. It’s really just about taking your ego out of it and asking, why does that line have to be perfect? Says who? It doesn’t.
How did you get there?
Time. And really just letting go of ego, and not caring, not giving two fucks about anything. I have to tell myself sometimes, I don’t wanna say “FUCK YOU” to the art world, but you kind of have to, I think. Just to fully dive inside yourself. Because we’re so inundated with images all the time, we start to think, “That’s what people like,” or “That’s what people are showing.” Why would we try to be like anybody else? People want you because of you and your voice and your experiences and your work. That’s what I’m trying to understand. I’ve had this journey in life that’s been very strange and different, but it’s been specific to my path, and I’ve had to do it, so I should paint that and not paint someone else’s story.
This is the first official women’s issue. Do you think that’s important?
Absolutely. Like any big movement, like the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights, that happened for a reason and people risked their lives for that. And we’re given this opportunity and now we have to honor and acknowledge it. I do find it annoying sometimes, to be totally honest. I think it’s a lot sometimes, being around feminist groups. And I don’t ever want to be put in a box where I’m a feminist painter. I’m a humanitarian, man—I love the world, and I love everybody in it.
Photography and Video by Tony Accosta. Music by Nikolas Escudero.